Steiner's Basic Books-Pt.3
Cosmic Memory & Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (1904)
Steiner next wrote two series of essays, one describing more of the methods of spiritual development (published as Know1edqe of the Higher Wor1ds and Its Attainment) and one of readings from the "Akashic Records", another Sanskrit term for all that has occurred in time and space (now published as Cosmic Memory: At1antis and Lemuria) . The way of meditation is elaborated in Knowledge, and some of the trials and experiences along the way; this was continued in The Stages of Higher Knowledge and in Occu1t Science, and in many essays, lectures and in his "Mystery Plays". In Cosmic Memory, the history of the world is followed back first to Atlantis, then Lemuria, and then to the time the world began in Creation itself. Here the highest knowledge begins to be given out, the record of creation inscribed spiritually within us..
The Education of the Child (1907)
About this same time Steiner gave some lectures on how man develops in seven-year cycles, each one with its own character, and how this could become the basis for a new educational approach. He revised these lectures into the book The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual Science, which is the basis for Waldorf Education.
An Outline of Occult Science (1909)
And now, after some seven years of developing these ideas, he wrote one general outline of it all--- An Outline of Occult Science. He writes a chapter on the true nature of man, what happens in sleep and in the life between death and rebirth, and then gives a more compact description of creation than in Cosmic Memory. This description (in the chapter entitled "The Evolution of the Cosmos and Man") of the world creative powers and events is the heart of Anthroposophy. Briefly, in the visible world is a hierarchy of being: mineral, plant, animal, and man; but it continues beyond man--he is only the highest in a physical body. Each kingdom is a level of consciousness; the mineral in a deep trance condition, the plant a sleep state, the animal a dreamlike state and man his self-conscious waking state. We once passed through these lower levels of consciousness,though not in the same form as present-day minerals, plants and animals. Consciousness continues to evolve beyond man; the first level above us has been called the "Angels," the next the "Archangels", etcetera. (These names were used in early Christianity by St. Paul and his pupil, Dionysius the Aeropagite, 1st bishop of Athens, in his book, "The Divine Names"---see Diagram #4.)
The consciousness of all creatures is acted upon by each Hierarchy in turn; these cycles are the "Days of Brahma" of Hinduism. There is a "Day" or active period ("Manvantara") in which beings experience this or that; then a "cosmic sleep" period, a Night (or "Pralaya") in which the experience is absorbed; and then a new "Day" begins, the previous experiences are recapitulated and then new experience begins. We are in the 4th Day or World, and Steiner describes each of the previous three worlds, three earlier "incarnations" of our whole planet (indeed, our whole solar system), and how they influence the present earth. In the first, "Saturn" (the names don't directly relate to the present planets'"), we gained our physical body, in the "Sun" stage our etheric body, and in the "Moon" stage the astral; we have only gotten the Ego in this Earth stage. There are three more worlds in the future.
As the whole world goes through seven stages, so each stage has seven subdivisions, and each subdivision is divided into seven and so on down, enabling one to understand the sequence of history in terms of 2,160-year "Zodiac ages," and even smaller cycles; these are mentioned in brief. And at the beginning of our epoch the Akashic Records reveal the entrance of a being from the Hierarchies (or "Gods") into earth as Christ, to counter the effect on man of some Hierarchial beings ("Lucifer" and "Ahriman" ) who have "fallen" and influence us improperly.
Finally, Steiner once again describes Initiation, how to attain higher knowledge, in the second half of the book.
4. Summing Up.
The basic ideas of Anthroposophy are thus: the reality of thinking and free will, the existence of higher knowledge or Initiation, the higher members of the being of man, the life between death and rebirth, the Nine Hierarchies., Christ and the Mystery of Golgotha, and the Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth evolutions.
With these ideas as his "palette," Steiner paints whole worlds in his lectures. Steiner would usually give "lecture-courses" of 10-14 lectures, one each day over two weeks, to a group that had organized into a chapter of the Anthroposophical Society and invited him to their city. Most of the "books" you see by Rudolf Steiner are actually these lecture-courses, expanding on the material in these basic books.